Maybe it’s just a coincidence.
Perhaps the record of Columbus Blue Jackets 21-9-9 in Kevin Stenlund’s 39 career games with the team is just lucky.
And of these 39 career games, Stenlund recorded 11 points. Perhaps Blue Jackets’ 9-0-2 record in these games is just a fluke.
Or maybe not.
With Tuesday Sudden resignation of Mikko KoivuIt is Stenlund, the 24-year-old Swedish native from Huddinge, who will have the first crack in a regular role.
In the eyes of most people, the Blue Jackets turned their 2019-20 season around December 16, 2019. They beat the Washington Capitals 3-0 at the Nationwide Arena, and it started both a five-game winning streak and a longer streak Columbus would go 17-2-3.
Stenlund’s first game with the Blue Jackets last season? December 16. Just coincidence, sure.
At 6’4 “, Stenlund is linked to Seth Jones and newly acquired Patrik Laine for the tallest blue jacket on the roster, and he uses his large frame to his advantage. Watch him dance through future Hall of Famer Zdeno with ease Chara on and stick with Chara’s later attempt to stop Stenlund from pushing the puck further into the zone:
After just four games in the 2018/19 season (the Blue Jackets won three of them), Stenlund saw an increase in odds last season only when Columbus was decimated by injuries and few options were left.
A few seconds later it is a power play goal for Stenlund – and his third in only his 15th game with the club, despite minimal minutes for the man advantage. Nick Foligno and Emil Bemstrom were credited with the assists, but if there was ever a time when a player could score his own goal, it was there.
Stenlund has continued his solid game this season despite very limited opportunities. He has only played three games but has a point in each game (one goal, two assists) – as do the Blue Jackets, which are in the small sample size 2-0-1.
It’s hard to quantify its statistics, but we can only orientate ourselves by the numbers that are presented to us and it looks like this:
Let’s extrapolate this to a season with 82 games:
But 13:35 average ice age? If he plays a full season with these numbers at 1:35 p.m., he’ll get more time. Let’s give him an average of 17:00 on ice:
Of course, we don’t know exactly how things would play out in 82 games. The 37-point pace can not hold. On the other hand, with more minutes there is more development and 37 points could be low.
Head coach John Tortorella appears ready to give Stenlund a chance. When asked on Tuesday how Koivu’s resignation could affect the team, he simply replied: “Stens will be there.”
“But Stens might not be in the bottom six.”